When Cathy Anagnostopoulos was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2011, she spearheaded a campaign bringing awareness to the importance of stem cell donors.
She made it clear that she wasn’t just doing it for herself, but for everyone in need of transplants. She inspired family, friends and thousands of others to get swabbed to see if they could become donors.
Although a match was found about a year ago, Anagnostopolous was never healthy enough to receive it.
On April 8, Anagnostopolous died.
John Bromley, public affairs manager at OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, called the Anagnostopoulos family “integral” in raising awareness about stem cell donors.
“They represent probably the largest patient campaign that OneMatch has had. Her legacy with OneMatch will go as a person whose generosity was up and beyond the actual need for the one person herself,” Bromley said. “Cathy’s family was always the first one to say that we want to do it on behalf of the other over 900 patients waiting for a transplant.”
Bromley said Anagnostopoulos’s campaign spread coast-to-coast when it came to other communities wanting to help her. It also inspired a campaign in the U.S., where more people signed up to join the marrow registry.
Anagnostopoulos raised awareness about the cause even after the end of her battle. She requested that donations be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in lieu of flowers at her funeral.
Andrea Swinton, executive director of the Ontario Region Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), found out about Anagnostopolous’s request while reading the newspaper.
“We’re very grateful as an organization that those donations are coming our way. But when it’s someone who’s been in contact with us and who has fundraised and raised awareness, it’s very bittersweet.”
To learn more about LLS, visit http://www.llscanada.org/
To find out how you can sign up for the bone marrow registry, visit http://www.onematch.ca/